Let mayors speak of neighbourhood
300 projects are currently being implemented between the EU Member States, Norway and the Russian Federation as part of seven ENI CBC programmes (Northern cluster), involving more than 850 organisations. Around 30% of these projects are led by local and regional authorities from border areas. We heard four first-hand testimonials – from Finnish, Norwegian, Estonian and Russian mayors – about the achievements, benefits and added value that cross-border cooperation projects are bringing to their cities and regions. These projects strengthen relations between the EU, Norway and Russia in the fields of economic development, environmental protection, border management and people-to-people cooperation. These thematic fields of cooperation were presented by four representatives of the Northern cluster programmes.
Take away message
Since the 90s, several generations of CBC projects have been contributing to building trustworthy relations between local and regional authorities in the EU, Norway and Russia. They result in numerous twinnings, exchanges, study visits and – what is more important – in the mutual willingness to work together. The four mayors stressed their eagerness to continue cooperation in the 2021-2027 programming period. This main message was shared by the workshop participants too, who defined the neighbourhood relations as "friendship", "trust" and "opportunities".
"International cooperation is hugely important for the development of the Arctic, but this must also actively include voices at regional level. Through dialogue and cooperation, we can develop joint solutions to build an attractive and prosperous Arctic society."
Sonja Alice Steen
Representative of the County Council of Nordland (Norway)
"Estonia and Russia share a common transboundary waterbody – Lake Peipsi. Its biggest problems are heavy agricultural pollution and overfishing. Our projects analyse water and fish stock resources, improve wastewater treatment facilities and build small harbours."
Mayor of Setomaa Rural Municipality (Estonia)
"Sovetsk is a border town located on the bank of the Neman river and connected to the Lithuanian coast by the Queen Luisa bridge. Through the CBC projects, we strive to preserve cultural heritage sites on both sides of the border and promote common border history."
Head of the administrative department of the Sovetsk Urban District (Russia)
"Millions of passengers cross the EU-Russian border every year through our multiple border-crossing points. With our large-scale projects we renovate roads, reconstruct bridges, build new lanes and invest in new equipment and facilities for border-crossing points for better and safer passenger and freight transport."
Regional Mayor, Regional Council of South Karelia (Finland)